The Template

Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

Why You’d Better Start a Personal Website This Year

how to create a blog
A blog or online portfolio will make you unforgettable.

In my day job at a public relations firm, I receive a fair amount of requests for internships or job opportunities. In 2014, I estimate 25 email pitches.

Of those 25 people who wrote emails, only one stood out.



The girl, a senior in college, linked me to her online portfolio. It’s a resume of sorts and her way to show what she’s all about. Yes, the portfolio helped me learn about her experience and interests. More importantly, the personal website demonstrated the student’s drive and willingness to do more than her peers.

For her efforts, the student landed an informational interview with our company and is now on our radar once she graduates. Well played.

Welcome to 2015

This is the year you will start a blog or online portfolio. Not tomorrow, not next week, not in the spring when your schedule quiets down.

Right now. Today.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, recent grad, freelancer, unemployed or in a job you love. You need a space on the internet to tell your story and share your knowledge. You will find countless situations where a quick link to your blog or professional bio gives you an immediate edge.

For instance, a job interview:

You: “Actually, if you check out my portfolio, I can show you some examples…”

Boss: “Oh, perfect. Yea, let’s do that. What’s the URL?”

The best part about a personal website? It’s stupid easy to create.

Right away, you can have a website with a design like this:

wp blog image

That’s because WordPress, the blog platform millions of people (like me) use every day, offers free templates with the fancy code already completed. All you need to do is add words and pictures. Yes, News To Live By now has a custom design, but I began with a free template.

Full disclosure: if you create a website through Bluehost, a popular web hosting tool I use for News To Live By, then I receive a small commission. It’s called affiliate marketing. It’s important you know about the commission because I don’t want to hide anything. Plus, you can also join the Bluehost affiliate program once you start your own website.

Online Portfolio

If you want to create an online portfolio, go to Bluehost to choose a hosting plan (go with $3.95 per month, the cheapest option) and then a domain name.

Follow the instructions to install WordPress and choose a theme (template). If you want a website that looks like a slick online resume, consider buying one in the Mojo Marketplace, which Bluehost will suggest. Check out these resume themes. It’s a one-time cost — like you paid a web designer $25 to design an entire site. Pretty good value.

Once you have the template selected, pat yourself on the back because you created an online portfolio. And your career will never be the same.

Personal or Professional Blog

If you want to make a blog, you need a brainstorm session first. Ask yourself two questions:

Q1. What topic(s) am I passionate about?

Q2. How can my topic(s) help other people?

The goal with a blog, in my view, is to further a career or grow a hobby/side project. If you want people to read your blog and share it with friends, consider what others need and how you can provide solutions.

To answer my own two questions:

A1. I am passionate about journalism and helping people improve their communication skills.

A2. Show people the career advice “hidden” in the news.

News To Live By is about doing what I enjoy (communication) in a way that helps others.

What’s your “thing”? And how can it better someone’s life?

The answer is the blog you will create. Not tomorrow, not next week.

Right. Now.

Ready? To create a blog, go to Bluehost for a hosting plan (choose $6.95 per month for the most website space) and then a domain name.

Follow the instructions to install WordPress and choose a theme (template), which can again come from the Mojo Marketplace. Then — this is important — write your first post. It can be a short paragraph and maybe one picture. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. The act of publishing post #1 will give you the confidence to keep going.


Three resources to help you along:

Why is Way Better Than — the website you create with Bluehost is

9 Profound Lessons I Learned by Starting a Blog — the many merits of blogging

101 Skills I Learned from Blogging — useful resource once you create a website


Two more bits of info:

If you have any questions about blogging or want to knock around your domain name/website idea, send me a note and I’ll give you my thoughts.

As part of my career coaching, I also help people with their blogs and portfolios: topics like how to write strong content, develop relationships with other bloggers, grow an audience and increase site traffic. Gain from my many months of trial and error. More coaching info here.


Do you have a personal website?

Share the link below, and tell us what the site has done for your career!


 Featured: Waag Society (Flickr)


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